“Makhlouf Says Syria Will Fight Protests Till ‘the End'” by Anthony Shadid

Rami Makhlouf and the arrogance of power. Buthaina Shaaban, in yesterday’s interview with Shadid, managed to evoke a bit of humility while explaining that the Syrian regime was winning in the struggle with the opposition. Rami Makhlouf cannot conceal the puffery of power. He threatens Israel and the region. Syria’s enemies will make hey out of this. It is true that if Syria collapses into civil war the entire region will suffer, but to use it as a threat against the very same people from whom you are asking indulgence and understanding is not a wise psychological tactic.

Ally of Assad Says Syria Will Fight Protests Till ‘the End’
By ANTHONY SHADID in NYTimes – May 10, 2011

DAMASCUS, Syria — Syria’s ruling elite, a tight-knit circle at the nexus of absolute power, loyalty to family and a visceral instinct for survival, will fight to the end in a struggle that could cast the Middle East into turmoil and even war, warned Syria’s most powerful businessman, a confidant and cousin of President Bashar al-Assad.

The frank comments by Rami Makhlouf, a tycoon who has emerged in the two-month uprising as a lighting rod for anger at the privilege that power brings, offered an exceedingly rare insight into the thinking of an opaque government. Beset by the greatest threat to its four decades of rule, the ruling family, he suggested, has conflated its survival with the existence of the minority sect that views the protests not as legitimate demands for change but rather as the seeds of civil war.

If there is no stability here, there’s no way there will be stability in Israel,” he said in an interview Monday that lasted more than three hours. “No way, and nobody can guarantee what will happen after, God forbid, anything happens to this regime.”

Asked if it was a warning or a threat, Mr. Makhlouf demurred.

“I didn’t say war,” he said. “What I’m saying is don’t let us suffer, don’t put a lot of pressure on the president, don’t push Syria to do anything it is not happy to do.”

His words cast into the starkest terms a sentiment the government has sought to cultivate — us or chaos — and it underlined the tactics of a ruling elite that has manipulated the ups and downs of a tumultuous region to sustain an overriding goal: its own survival.

Though the uprising has yet to spread to Syria’s two largest cities — Damascus, the capital, seemingly tranquil, was bereft of any military buildup this week, and Aleppo, a key conservative bastion, has been relatively quiet — the protests have unfurled across much of the rest of the country, building on longstanding neglect of the countryside and anger at corrupt and unaccountable security forces. While the government offered tentative concessions early on, it has since carried out a ferocious crackdown, killing hundreds, arresting thousands and besieging four cities.

“The decision of the government now is that they decided to fight,” Mr. Makhlouf said.

But even if it prevails, the uprising has demonstrated the weakness of a dictatorial government that once sought to draw legitimacy from a notion of Arab nationalism, a sprawling public sector that created the semblance of a middle class and services that delivered electricity to the smallest towns. The government of Mr. Assad, though, is far different than that of his father, who seized power in 1970. A beleaguered state, shorn of ideology, can no longer deliver essential services or basic livelihood. Mr. Makhlouf’s warnings of instability and sectarian strife like Iraq’s have emerged as the government’s rallying cry, as it deals with a degree of dissent that its officials admit caught them by surprise.

Mr. Makhlouf, a childhood friend and first cousin of Mr. Assad whose brother is the intelligence chief in Damascus, suggested that the ruling elite — staffed by Mr. Assad’s relatives and contemporaries — had grown even closer during the crisis. Though Mr. Assad has the final say, he said, policies were formulated as “a joint decision.”

“We believe there is no continuity without unity,” he said. “As a person, each one of us knows we cannot continue without staying united together.”

He echoed an Arabic proverb, which translated loosely, means that it will not go down alone.

“We will not go out, leave on our boat, go gambling, you know,” he said at his plush, wood-paneled headquarters in Damascus. “We will sit here. We call it a fight until the end.” He added later, “They should know when we suffer, we will not suffer alone.

Mr. Makhlouf, just 41 and leery of the limelight, stands as both a strength and liability of Mr. Assad’s rule, and in the interview he was a study in contrasts — a feared and reviled businessmen who went to lengths to be hospitable and mild-mannered. To the government’s detractors, his unpopularity rivals perhaps only that of Mr. Assad’s brother, Maher, who commands the Republican Guard and the elite Fourth Division that has played a crucial role in the crackdown. Mr. Makhlouf’s name was chanted in protests and offices of his company, Syriatel, the country’s largest mobile phone company, were burned in Dara’a, the poor town near the Jordanian border where the uprising began in mid-March.

The American government, which imposed sanctions on him in 2008, has accused him of manipulating the judicial system and using Syrian intelligence to intimidate rivals.

Asked why he believed he was sanctioned, he replied, “Because the president is my cousin, or I’m the cousin of the president. Full stop.” He suggested that anger at him arose from jealousy and long-standing suspicions that he serves as the family’s banker.

“Maybe they are worried about using this money to support the regime,” he said. “I don’t know. Maybe. But the regime has the whole government, they don’t need me.”

He said he was aware of the anger, but called it “the price I have to pay.”

More than just an icon of outrage, Mr. Makhlouf represents broader changes afoot in the country. His very wealth points to the shifting constellation of power in Syria, as the old alliance of Sunni Muslim merchants and officers from Mr. Makhlouf’s Alawite clan gives way to descendants of those officers benefiting from lucrative deals made possible by reforms that have dismantled the public sector.

He serves as an instrument, too, in Mr. Assad’s vision of economic modernization, where Syria serves as a crossroads of regional trade and a hub for oil and gas pipelines that link Iraq and the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean and Europe. Cham Holdings, a vast conglomerate with a portfolio of $2 billion, in which Mr. Makhlouf owns a quarter of the shares outright, is at the forefront of that faltering scheme.

Turkey’s recent anger at Syria’s crackdown has fed feelings of betrayal in the government because Turkey was viewed as a centerpiece in that vision. Concerns are growing, too, over the uprising’s economic impact, deepened by Syria’s growing isolation and flight of capital — a legacy that may very well prove more threatening to the government than the protests.

Mr. Makhlouf suggested that economic reform would stay primary.

“This is a priority for Syrians,” he said. “We have to ask for economic reform before speaking about political reform.” He acknowledged that change had come late and limited. “But if there is some delay,” he added, “it’s not the end of the world.”

He warned the alternative — led by what he described as Salafists, the government’s name for militant Islamists — would mean war at home and perhaps abroad.

“We won’t accept it,” he said. “People will fight against them. Do you know what this means? It means catastrophe. And we have a lot of fighters.”

Comments (45)

EHSANI2 said:

Dr. Landis,

Perhaps you can explain to us who Mr. Makhlouf means by the word “we” in the last paragraph in the article.

“we have a lot of fighters.”

The last time I checked, Syriatel or Cham holding had no “fighters”.

Is it like “we own” when he says “we have”.

May 10th, 2011, 12:01 pm


edward said:

yes another glaring example of Bashar’s reforms. Reforming the Syrian economy to fit neatly into his cousin’s back pocket.

May 10th, 2011, 12:16 pm


Mina said:

Ten sentences out of a three hours interview (Shadid keeps the rest for a book). I wish he said anything useful or interesting!

Between the lines, would the message be: no matter what you do, we will not drop the bilateral defense agreement with Iran?

About Erdogan’s comments on the situation, comparing it to Halabja and Hama, has Turkey finally given up its deal for a pipeline bringing gas to Europe from Iran?

How much was Turkey promessed to withdraw its 25,000 workers from Libya, who are now probably staying jobless in Turkey? Any journalist to interview them?

May 10th, 2011, 12:21 pm


Vedat The Turk said:

Bravos to Anthony Shadid. This article on Rami Makhlouf is probably the single most revealing piece of journalism into the heart of the Syria regime in years! He is fair and balanced with his analysis.

The thing that was most surprising was that the regime actually allowed such an interview to happen in the first place. By allowing Makhlouf to be interviewed for a front page story in the New York Times they are either inept in public relations or indifferent. Like it or not, Maklouf has become the new face of the Assad family to the rest of the world.

The other shocking thing of the report was Makloufs tone! His threats and taunts did not go unnoticed. Nor did his claims of ambivalence towards the thoughts of the rest of the world – some would call it arrogance. Basically, here is a person of privilege who has attained his wealth through nepotism and corruption threatening to fight till the end against a populace that no longer wishes to be exploited by him. The fact that thousands of innocent Syrians have been killed or seriously injured by the apparatus controlled by his family never seems to cross his mind. But rest assured that to the average reader these atrocities were never far off.

IN short the interview was a disastrous portrayal of the Assad clan. It was almost as if it was an unintended taunt to the rest of the world to do something about it.

May 10th, 2011, 12:38 pm


Amir in Tel Aviv said:

This kind of an interview surely makes the blood boil. What arrogance!
But I prefer to look on the brighter side. This junta is desperate and frightened. You can read it between the lines, in both interviews, Rami’s and Bouthaina’s.

May 10th, 2011, 12:46 pm


Vedat The Turk said:


Good point.

When I read the part about “we have a lot of fighters.” it was clear that he was speaking on behalf of the Syrian intelligence.

If you notice a few lines down Shadid points out that such threats are common for Maklouf… “The American government, which imposed sanctions on him in 2008, has accused him of manipulating the judicial system and using Syrian intelligence to intimidate rivals.”

Shadid also points out in the artcile that Makloufs brother is head of Syrian Intelligence in Damascus.

May 10th, 2011, 12:46 pm


5 dancing shlomos said:

Syria and US Imperialism By Sara Flounders


“Syria is also targeted by imperialism — because of its heroic defense of Palestinian resistance over decades and its refusal to recognize the Zionist occupation. Syria’s assistance to Hezbollah in their struggle to end the Israeli occupation of Lebanon and their strategic alliance with Iran cannot be forgotten.”

May 10th, 2011, 1:10 pm


FreeSoldier said:

Funny how they all sound the same. This interview reminds me of one the interview Kaddafi’s son did. Same blabber.
Reformer and Assad’s family in the same sentence is an oxymoron. They will never reform.
2011 is the begging of the end of the Assad’s rule in Syria. The sooner it is over the lesser the damage to the region. And not the otherway around.

May 10th, 2011, 1:28 pm


majedkhaldoon said:

There is no continuity without unity,this sealed the fate of the whole sect, if it was true.
Butheina Shaaban is just hoping.
The UN investigating committee is not allowed to visit Deraa.
Turkish PM comments are very important,it isolates Syrian regime.who has no friend in the neighborhood anymore.

May 10th, 2011, 1:34 pm


N.Z. said:


“As a person, each one of us knows we cannot continue without staying united together.”

He means the ruling elite, meaning the mafia gangsters.

This is a long awaited piece, it confirms even further how this country is ruled.

I disagree with your statement “this sealed the fate of the whole sect”, simply, because the majority never benefited from this mafia, to the contrary. They are used as accessories to advance the ruling elite power. Unfortunately they turned some of them to monsters, like the Shabihas, this is a self hating attitude that will come back to hunt the Assads and Makhloufs from within.

Many educated Alawites are anti Assads Mafia, some are vocal, the majority are silent. They are a sliver of the Syrian society that reflects to some degree the rest of the pie.

May 10th, 2011, 2:24 pm


Findalaawi said:

Shadid just spoke about his trip to Syria on “Here and Now” on NPR this afternoon. He says that the goal of his trip was to interview Makhlouf and that he had spent a lot of time trying to make it happen; when he was there, he was told Shaaban could talk to him too. Poor coordination?

May 10th, 2011, 3:11 pm


why-discuss said:


I wonder what happened to my post? I was asking you if you has anymore information about the supposed ‘desintegration’ of the Syrian army so diligently described by Mr Olmert?
Also if you know why, now that death in the demonstrations lost the headlines, there is a flurry in the western press of dark predictions of isolation and doom for the government of Bashar al Assad.

May 10th, 2011, 3:22 pm


Aldendeshe said:

“…………Mr. Makhlouf suggested that economic reform would stay primary.

“This is a priority for Syrians,” he said. “We have to ask for economic reform before speaking about political reform.”……..”

Political Reforms comes first, only then will fair distribution of economic reform dividents among the populace are insured. Should Political reforms comes afterward, it will be just to serve the unfair status quo after economic reforms completed, another powerless and obsolete political front to replace the old one.

May 10th, 2011, 3:24 pm


why-discuss said:


It is obvious that the Syrian government has a poor PR compared to the opposition.
By the way, anyone knows how many syrians are employed by Makhlouf ( Syriatel etc..) and how many no-syrians?

May 10th, 2011, 3:27 pm


majedkhaldoon said:

I said ,if true , I think we both know it is not true,a lot of Alawi are against the Assad family

It is obvious that this regime choose their death,they are not willing for reform and not willing to engage with dialogue,they are suicidal,they can not fight 70-80% of the syrian,The Assad clan are not even5%.they can not survive,this is the end of Assad dynasty,they are foolish in choosing this fate,as I said before Bashar is not a smart one,and he is not a leader,They do not look for the betterment of the syrian people.
Those who support the regime,should know,they are not neutral,they are not objective,nor reasonable, they keep posting from the regime media, all what they say is not believable,it is not credible,it is waste of their time,if they love Syria they should call for dialogue and reform, and stop telling us that the unarmed protesters are killing officers and soldiers who are well armed , the truth will be known.
You can tremble you can shake,you loose sleep and get headache ,you will wet your pants,there is no use, the end is comming.you are no longer Baik.

May 10th, 2011, 3:33 pm


Majed97 said:

This interview and the interview with Buthaina Shaaban yesterday, signify the Syrian government increased confidence in defeating the demonstrators. It is clear to me that the government is now on the offense, and feels certain it will prevail.

I don’t doubt, nor do I condone, the fact that Rami Makhlouf had a lot of help from his powerful relatives in building his empire, but why are so many people pretending that nepotism is a Syrian invention, introduced by the Assad family!? Which ruling family in the Middle East does not favor its family members over others in doing business? There are a lot bigger tycoons in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, Lebanon and others who rode their family ties to outrageous wealthy. Most people in the Middle East get their jobs through family connections. It is deeply embedded in the culture, and highly expected that family members favor each others in business and beyond; so please let’s not play ignorant and take the moral high ground selectively, only to score cheap points against those we dislike. This practice is hardly unique in any country (including western countries), let alone Syria…

May 10th, 2011, 3:36 pm


Atassi said:

Syrian Forces Tighten Grip On Residents Of Homs [DP]
10 May 2011
NPR: Morning Edition
© 2011 NPR®. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials


It’s MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I’m Steve Inskeep.


And I’m Renee Montagne.

In the midst of what’s being called the Arab Spring, Syria has not let up in its crackdown of protesters. The government has been particularly harsh in Homs, a city that’s been one of the centers of nationwide protest. Soldiers have occupied that city and are searching house to house for those opposed to the regime of President Bashar Assad.

NPR’s Kelly McEvers joins us on the line from Lebanon, just across the border from Homs.

And Kelly, what more are people telling you about what’s happening there in Syria?

KELLY MCEVERS: One man we spoke to on the phone, who had just fled Homs, says that that city right now – the way he described was – he said it’s a place that separate from Earth. He said it’s just unworldly what’s going on there. He says that when security forces come into the city, they strike with their tanks first. They don’t even bother using their rifles, says sometimes they even shoot from helicopters in certain neighborhoods.

He says there’s places in the city where bodies are lying in the streets. People try to remove the bodies, but they can’t even go out of their homes. He says they’re putting men and women in separate rooms and interrogating them.

Another man told us that people who even try to hang their laundry out their windows, from second-floor windows, get shot at. He says that schools are closed, the province is basically paralyzed. They’re running out of bread and salt, basics.

MONTAGNE: And, Kelly, it does sound like the crackdown is intensifying.

MCEVERS: You know, it’s hard to say with absolute certainty, because we are not allowed to enter Syria to verify the reports. But what I can tell you is that residents and activists are telling us that the military is entering more and more cities, detaining more and more people. Activists are saying that now it’s up to 10,000 people who’ve been detained or have disappeared. They’re saying this is forcing many activists into hiding, which, of course, makes it harder for them to organize and to get information out.

Phone lines are being cut. Internet connections are being are being cutoff. Even satellite phones now are being jammed. This, of course, is troubling, because this has been the main way for the opposition to get information out, you know, through Skype calls and uploaded videos. Without that, the world will have no idea what’s going on inside Syria.

MONTAGNE: And the government, what does it say it’s doing?

MCEVERS: A Syrian government spokeswoman – who’s also a close advisor to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad – told The New York Times yesterday that, you know, she’s fairly confident this whole thing will end soon. She, like Syrian officials, have been, for several weeks, characterizing these protesters as not, you know, reformers or people who are seeking, you know, more freedoms, but rather a combination of – what she said – fundamentalists, extremists, smugglers and ex-convicts. And that’s why, you know, the government says it’s using so much violence.

Of course, activists say the security approach to the problem is no way to solve it. There’s no way you can occupy an entire country. You know, security forces might move into a few cities, but with then once they leave, the protests continue popping up. So at some point, activists say there’s going to have to be something beyond the security solution. There’ll have to be a political solution.

MONTAGNE: Although one wonders if a political solution is likely at this point.

MCEVERS: Yeah, I mean, the Syrian government says – the same spokeswoman says that, you know, the government’s been reaching out to the opposition. But they’re mainly talking to the so-called sort of old guard, opposition figures who’ve been around for a long time and who’ve always kind of been willing to work within the system.

The question is: Will that satisfy this newer opposition? I’m talking about the young protest organizers who are scattered around the country, and people who’ve since been radicalized by this violence at the hands of the government. How will they be satisfied? Will they be satisfied with any anything but revenge? Revenge in the form of, you know, Assad stepping down, which is seeming more and more unlikely? Or in the form of more violence?

Either way, it’s really not a pretty picture.

MONTAGNE: NPR’s Kelly McEvers is in Lebanon, just across the border from Homs, Syria.

Thanks very much.

MCEVERS: You’re welcome.

May 10th, 2011, 3:43 pm


Mouna said:

I’m offering a lollipop for anyone who can post a greater number of links than Mina.

And why is she constantly in the international sphere when the discussion is on Syria? Why not just post “double standards” instead of all those links?

Jeez …

May 10th, 2011, 3:45 pm


Attasi said:

Security Council urged to speak out on Syria
10 May 2011
The Star

© Copyright 2011 Independent Newspapers (UK) Limited. All rights reserved.

New York: Western nations have launched a new bid to get the UN Security Council to condemn Syria for its deadly crackdown on opposition demonstrators, diplomats say.

Syria’s refusal to let a UN humanitarian assessment team into the protest city of Dara’a was raised by Britain at a Security Council meeting yesterday.

Britain is leading lobbying for a Security Council resolution warning Syria over its crackdown, diplomats say.

In parallel, Western nations are stepping up a campaign to stop Syria getting a seat on the UN Human Rights Council at a vote next week.

But efforts to pressure Syria are being held back by opposition from Russia, China and other countries on the 15-nation Security Council, who say the French-British-US coalition staging air attacks in Libya has gone beyond its UN mandate.

Syria again angered its critics by refusing to let a UN humanitarian team into Dara’a on Sunday. Hundreds are feared to have died in the city, which has become a symbol of the protests against President Bashar al-Assad.

The UN announced on Thursday that Syria had agreed to let a UN team into Dara’a, after UN Sscretary general Ban Ki-moon appealed directly to Assad.

According to human rights groups, more than 600 people have been killed and 8 000 have been jailed or disappeared across Syria in eight weeks of protests. – Sapa-AFP

May 10th, 2011, 3:48 pm


why-discuss said:


Everybody wants dialog and reforms.
Who will the opposition dialog with if there is no more government and Bashar is out, as you are wishing?
What reforms do you expect in the total collapse of the government structure and institustions?
It becomes a “nation-building” task from scratch.
Do you think the ‘opposition’ alone can do that? Who will help ? the US? The EU? The Syrian army? We are not in Egypt. Organized political parties: we are not in Tunisia. Any suggestion?

May 10th, 2011, 3:48 pm


why-discuss said:


What a weird remark? Syria is not on Mars.. it is in the middle east and the events in the region and the international scene are affecting each other. Maybe you were not aware of that. Eat your lollipop, it suits you!

May 10th, 2011, 3:51 pm


majedkhaldoon said:

Why discuss
Do you think the ‘opposition’ alone can do that? Who will help ?

the syrian people

May 10th, 2011, 4:04 pm


Jad said:

What a dickish attitude!!
‘Jealousy’?!?! Sure people are in the street being killed because they are ‘jealous’ of his hair style!

خاص -ماذا تريد المعارضة السورية -مالك الشريف

‘Eat your lollipop, it suits you!’ 🙂

May 10th, 2011, 4:09 pm


Mouna said:


Stop treating me like this. I’m warning you (lower lip quivering).

Can you prove you’re a PhD holder?

I can’t wait for the next party leaflet from محمود. Great additions to the discussion.

* I didn’t expect Mina to answer. She and Souri333 never do. Automatons perhaps. 🙂

May 10th, 2011, 4:29 pm


jad said:

Can you prove you’re a female!?

May 10th, 2011, 4:38 pm


Sophia said:

Mr. Makhlouf is arrogant, he should keep quite and humble.

May 10th, 2011, 5:00 pm


Mina said:

Sorry, I can’t find it. There is a video about 5 days ago where someone is asked if the tanks were firing at the people and the guy says ‘no, they were firing at each other with the amn’.

I am happy at least someone is grateful for the links I provide. I have this one for you. I hope you can explain me what the guy who wrote that means. It is on Wissam Tarif’s blog where he narrats his visit to a think-tank in Sweden where other ‘activists’ from the Middle East attended, such as (so-called) journalists and even some famous Egyptians. I quote:

“The four Swedish participants left the hotel and headed back to their homes and jobs. A few days after that and as a part of my study visit I’ve visited Swedish Think Tanks and other opinion and policy making institutions. In the meetings I was told about Sweden political parties, social system and the well fare sate establishment.

Sweden at that time was three weeks away from the European Union Presidency. In the Think Tanks they had no real interest, knowledge or studies about The Middle East. They are so much focusing on Sweden. They have managed to do that as political institutions for a long time. And they have done an amazing job but they cannot do that anymore while they are part of the EU political structure and defiantly not when they are in the presidency.

I met parliamentarians from different political parties as well. Three of them sit on various committees including EU and foreign affairs. Those meetings were more productive and sort of relief. Nevertheless while visiting the Foreign Office Press center; a lady from the MENA desk answered angrily some of my boisterous questions stating basically that Sweden does not have a Foreign Policy when it comes to the Middle East. She said they will follow the EU.

I do not think that is destined. And on that matter I will be having more to say but not here. This is neither the place nor the time.

PS: The fifth Swedish participant was born and brought up in Sweden. Nevertheless in the eyes of the writer she is the result of a regionally approved and internationally blessed legal utopian marriage of convenience. The participant is the product of the fathers and the mother of most Lebanese. The rest of The Lebanese are still is sperm stage. Therefore she will be mentioned with the Lebanese participants.

The fathers are : Hassan Nasroulah[i], Al Mufti Kabani[ii], Patriarch Sufaier[iii], Ahmadinejad [iv] . The mother is : Nawal Al Sadawi[v].

[i] Hassan Nasroulah is the religious, political and military leader of Hezbollah, Lebanon. Hobbies: Assassinations, small and big wars, terrifying people, shouting and screaming, praying in public and playing the big hero.

[ii] Al Mufti Kabani is the Muslim Suni highest authority in Lebanon known as Mufti. Hobbies: Praying in public, speaking nicely about the Saudi Royal family, preventing equality legislations from happening.

[iii] Patriarch Sufaier is the Christians Maronite highest authority in Lebanon. Hobbies: Praying in public, preventing equality legislations from happening, appearing on every news channel in the country.

[iv] Ahmadinejad is the lunatic homophobe who stated that there are no homosexuals in Iran. He managed as well to cheat in the last Iranian elections and still proclaims himself the Mullah’s spoilt president. Hobbies: has plenty ranks on top hanging Iranians whom he considers perverts.

[v] Nawal Al Sadawi, a physician, highly reputable feminist activist and writer, who is constantly criticized and threatened by Islamists. Hobbies: No time for leisure activities. The four keeps her very busy and she is Egyptian as well so she has Mubarak and the Muslim Brothers to entertain herself.”

May 10th, 2011, 5:08 pm


Souri333 (formerly Souri) said:

It is probably a reaction to the European sanctions that were enforced today.

Dr. Landis described it as the “arrogance of power.” I see it totally different; it shows a lot of scare and sense of weakness that I did not expect at this stage.

He sounded very much like an Alawi villager rather than a business tycoon. His last sentences made it very clear, he was saying: if you think you can let the Salafis exterminate us, you are wrong, we are going to fight to the last man.

He was alluding to the 10 million vs. 10 million scenario that I talked about in the first week. The problem with the Western world is that they refuse to see the stark sectarian nature of this situation. Many Westerners even doubt that there is such thing as the Wahhabis in the uprising. This is a major problem. It is not surprising that you can’t understand the man’s feelings.

He is not threatening the West or Israel. He is just so desperate and scared. He can’t understand why Europe sanctioned 13 security officials (out of whom 10 are Alawis) who are fighting against a Wahhabi uprising. The Wahhabis want to exterminate the Alawis. This is what they say on their websites and TV channels, and this is what their sacred books say. The Alawis are scared to death. They are fighting a battle for survival. When you are in such a situation and when you see that nobody (in the Western world) believes you, you start believing in universal conspiracy. This is the only defense mechanism that can help you keep fighting.

If you want to understand the psychology of the Syrian regime, you must stop seeing them as an evil regime. Those people see themselves as a minority threatened by annihilation. Makhlouf’s reaction is so strange and unusual. It is obvious that the sanction news has enhanced his feelings of persecution and paranoia.

You have to understand that there is a real thing called the Whhabis/Salafis who want to exterminate the Alawis like Ibn Taymiyya did. Even if they don’t exterminate them, they are going to persecute them. This region is neither Europe nor America. People here are brutal. The Wahhabis can easily behead a man with a knife. They did it a lot in Iraq and video taped it. To the Alawis, this is not news that they see on TV—it is a real threat that they deal with on daily basis. There are many Alawis who have already been brutally murdered and mutilated in this uprising.

I have never talked to an Alawi person in Syria without feeling that they are scared of me. Those people are full of fear, even if they pretend otherwise.

May 10th, 2011, 5:13 pm


Mouna said:

Thanks Mina. That was very long and interesting.

I fail to see what he was getting at. I’m surprised Patriarch Sfeir was included as a father. Patriarchs must be celibate. 🙂

May 10th, 2011, 5:30 pm


why-discuss said:


The Syrian people? You mean Deraa, Banyas, Homs, Douma, Meydan, Haresta and Qamishli intelligentsia and demonstrators, and/or the computer savvy Syrian expats through Skype conference calls and Twitter

May 10th, 2011, 5:44 pm


why-discuss said:


“Many Westerners even doubt that there is such thing as the Wahhabis in the uprising. ”

The Western countries are starting to see the gutter rats showing their nose in Egypt and in Tunisia.
It is not only the Alawis who fear the Wahhabis, it is also the Christians. We can see now what is happening in Egypt: the salafists are finding any pretext to kill the Copts. If the Egyptian government does not do an immediate, ‘brutal’ and ‘ferocious”crackdown’ on the Salafists, the Copts will arm themselves and violence will generalize. The danger of a violent civil war is present in Egypt. Don’t underestimate the Salafists.

May 10th, 2011, 5:57 pm


why-discuss said:


Is the ‘desintingration’ of the Syrian army a reality or just wishful thinking for Mr Joseph Olmert (a relative to Ehud?)

May 10th, 2011, 6:02 pm


Homsi said:

i would like to clarify something about Homs as its in the news all the times now days as a second Deraa , i dont know what was happining in Daraa but it was obvouse that Daraa was an angry city in general

Homs is much bigger than Daraa as you know and its much much diverced for some one reading the news (even state TV) woud think that the city is boilgn just like Daraa ,that is not true

the demonstrations took place in the conservative parts of the city ,the places that you would not walk with your sister or any other female that is not wearing hijab without feeling that you are making something wrong ,those places are meanly a tribal areas who settled in this part of the city with the exeption to BAB el sbaa (near where i live)

the vast majority of Homs against ‘the revolution’ but the problem is areas like aljhaldia and bayada alone are 100 000 people and they are all from two or three trips meaning in on funeral you will find 5000 people minimum

we are so glad that the army is in the city (i cant call my family however i feel better because i know the army and the security force are in the area)

Homs the main city is very calm (with the exeption of bab el sbaa) but if you ask any one will tell you that the people in bab el sbaa who caused troubles came from outside and no one knows them)

thank you all

May 10th, 2011, 6:15 pm


souri said:

He souds like the Gaddafi’s SOn Seif alarab, We will fight them till the end, They are obssessed with ruling the country.

May 10th, 2011, 6:27 pm


Abughassan said:

The mere fact that Rami is not in jail is a testimony to how corrupt the regime is,and the idea of giving this thief an outlet to express his opinion is an insult to every honest Syrian.
The regime should not interpret the chosen silence of many Syrians as a sign of approval of its policies or acceptance of a parasite like Rami who,if he is a true patriot as he claims,should sell his shares of syriatel,stay out of those fishy deals and pray that Syrians do not send him to where he and his likes belong: jail.

May 10th, 2011, 6:29 pm


Souri333 (formerly Souri) said:


I know. I talked before about a scenario where the minorities unite and fight against the Wahhabis. Perhaps this is what Makhlouf meant when he said “we have a lot of fighters.”

I was watching today a Wahhabi channel and they showed a “letter of support” sent to them by “Christian young men.” Not all the “Christians” who claim to support the uprising on the internet are fake, there are some real Christians who show their support because they believe this will appease the Wahhabis. The same is true for the other minorities. There have been many demos in the Druze mountain and in Salamiyya. The minorities are scared and this is obvious.

The Wahhabis can never be appeased. So many people tried to reach agreements with them. It never works.

The civil war scenario is unlikely now. It would have happened if the Islamists in Aleppo and Damascus had joined the uprising. The regime successfully managed to neutralize many Islamists by using tactics of dividing and conquering that I talked about before. The regime successfully divided the Islamists and now it is in the process of conquering them. Things are going well for the regime. Even if the Islamists in Aleppo and Damascus revolt at a later stage, it will be too late.

Makhlouf’s interview is an overreaction to the European sanctions. Things are not that bad.

May 10th, 2011, 6:42 pm


extra said:

‘Businessman’- what a joke, and what a sadly inflated sense of his own abilities. People like Rami only prosper when the game is tilted heavily their way- by being at the core of a corrupt ruling elite. By agreeing to an interview, he displays his lack of judgement. If the regime falls, this man- with his ill-judged statements and ego-maniacal threats- should shoulder a lot of the blame. The best thing he could do is retreat to his yacht(s) on the French Riviera.

May 10th, 2011, 6:54 pm


democracynow said:

John Kerry: It’s time to give up on Assad as a reformer

“I said we have to put him to the test. I’ve always said it’s a series of tests,” Kerry said. “The chance was lost and that’s the end of it.”

“We can’t [continue to engage] right now,” he said. “This is an egregious situation. There are a lot of human rights abuses and we have to respond appropriately.”


Remember that Kerry, as the article points out, has been the congress delegate to Damascus and one of the very few advocates for engagement with the Syrian regime.

May 10th, 2011, 7:15 pm


democracynow said:

The interview with Mr. Rami Makhlouf should serve as an indicator about the seriousness of future reforms:

“We’ll fight!….. We have a lot of fighters!!”

Also, it looks like the family is well and truly united. Any earlier arguments or talks about Dr. Bashar’s inability to rein in these around him should be dismissed.

They’re all in together.

May 10th, 2011, 7:23 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Dancing with the Stars

Dear 5 Dancing Ahmads,

What do you think of the Syrian government’s murder of nearly 1000 innocent Syrians?

Will you lift a finger to criticize the Syrian government or does that take too much effort on your part? Or maybe your masdrassa education prevents you from criticizing a “brotherly” Arab government that kills its own?

May 10th, 2011, 7:49 pm


Shami said:

333,This scared gang could kill you or your bigot relatives and then tell in their media that you were terrorists.
What asad-makhlouf paranoid gang dream for is to make sure that you fear their tools of oppresion torture,prison,killing again in the 2010’s.

May 10th, 2011, 8:04 pm


محمود said:

اننا نكره حكامكم ! نكره ممارساتكم ! تدخلاتكم ! نكره أسلوبكم! لن نشاهد منكم غير نتاج دمار مجمع التصنيع الحربي الأمريكي ! هل تريدون أن نفرش لكم الزهور في ساحات سقوط صواريخكم ؟كيف تدعون الانسانية و انتم تنفقون أكبر ميزانية عسكرية في العالم ! هل تعتقدون ان العالم ينسى بسرعة اجرامكم في تدمير هيروشيما و ناغازاكي ؟ كيف تنادون بالديمقراطية و أنتم بحاجة دائما الى خلق اعداء افتراضيين لتبرير انفاقاتكم العسكرية! هل تعتقدون أنكم الوحيدون ماضيون في العلوم ؟ انكم قمة في التخلف الأخلاقي ! انكم عبيد المادة ! سحقا لدهنيتكم ! سحقا لعقيدتكم المدمرة !

May 11th, 2011, 12:18 pm


Jihad said:

It is a really despicable interview made by this Makhlouf guy. Even more than the words uttered by Bouthaina Shaaban who continues to write senseless articles in the Wahhabi Al-Sharq Al-Awsat with a photo of her when she was close to 15 years old!

May 11th, 2011, 10:38 pm


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